Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2nd annual Gunnison Growler 2009 race report!

The cool pics are from Brian Riepe of the Mountain flyer-- http://www.mountainflyer.com/news.cfm?itemid=214

On Bambi's Trail on the first lap.
As we rode down the highway at about 24 mph I asked Dave, "so how did you get the mileage for the Growler. Did you GPS it or have an odometer or.." He replied, "I have no idea how long it was! Someone with an odometer said it was 69 miles."

The Growler was in its second year. Each year I think the plan is to choose another lap at Hartman rocks that is in the neighborhood of 32 mi. This year we started in town and then rode as a group at a neutral pace behind a patrol car. Then you can do one lap or the full Growler of two laps. Here is a map of the Sunday May 24, 2009 race course. The course is mainly technical single track with over 8ooo ft of climbing--in short steep bursts. This means that there are lots of places that are steep and large rocks must be ridden over and even some places where there are large cliffs. There are also sections of fast smooth trails. Dave Wiens, a local biker, started the race to raise $ for local trails. Dave is way fast and way nice.... See http://www.gunnisontrails.com/ for more info on race!

It had rained for several days with Sunday predicted to be the best day with just 30-40% chance of rain. Rain is actually good here because it causes the sandy trails to firm up and compact.

Sunday morning we get up early and make pancakes. I'm riding the old hard tail. It's light but I'll take a beating on the rocky sections. I grab some chow and head downtown. My nutrition strategy is to eat a gu or bar every 35 min as my watch will beep at me. I have two large bottles with Gu2O-about 100 cal from maltodextrin. Anne follows with the kids to watch the start. 225 bikers line up on main street--about 150 are officially slated to do the long course that I'm doing. The clouds are hanging low and the temperature is in the mid 40s. It could be worse..... Ken Coleman, the city manager, fires the shotgun twice to start the race at 7 sharp. And off we go behind the patrol car. They keep a nice easy pace so that the people with single speed bikes don't spin their little legs off. It it a easy ride and I chat with the other Gunni folk.

Then we hit the dirt. We climbed the main road and kept on roads for a couple of miles to spread every one out. The first part is very steep and aptly named "kill hill". Today it is about 2 inches of slimey mud. The single speeders can't ride it so they have to walk--which makes me walk as I should have gotten in front of them. We clean the summit and the road gives way to nice packed sand/granite. I purposefully go at 3/4 pace as I want to save something for the second lap. Also I haven't ridden a ton yet....

We then hit the first single track and I was slowed up a little by some people but not to worry. Many people lost this race last year by bonking in the last of it... like me last year. The first lap the trails were nice. Not super fast but just a bit of mud as some different geology was covered. I got lucky and missed the rain storm that passed to the north of me. As I went around the loop many Gunnison people were out making sure that correct turns were made. Brian Riepe, from the mountain flyer , was out taking pictures with his girl Larken. He would hop in his truck and drive around to several locations... so I saw him several times. He's also a way fast rider.. Finally I hit "the top of the world" trail where Brian Wickenhauser was overseeing the course. This was the windiest place on the whole course. He looked cold as the wind and light rain blasted him--looks like more like 80% chance of rain today! Now just one more seriously technical section (the ridgeline--400 ft cliff on one side, big knarly rocks on the other) and then down to the start.

Anne drove out with the kids at 10:00. I figured it would take me around 3 hrs for the first lap. I must have came in at around 3:11. Julian was doing a little victory dance for me. Anne handed me some more drink and food and I started the next lap. This lap started off by going up the steepest trail up to the ridge--the notch trail. From this point on ,I started to go faster and began to pass some people. Everyone was pretty spread out so I had no idea what place I was in or how close people were. The trail was really compact and fast for the first 15 miles. After this, however, some really muddy sections came up as the rain i had missed earlier had soaked some clay sections. No problem--had to walk a section or two and didn't crash as I slid down sections. I just kept thinking of the next two trails ahead so as not to overwelm myself...

Halfway around each lap you drop down Skull pass then back up the steep road. Ricky, from the Tune Up, and Clint, who I played with on the Gunnison Rec League championship team, grabbed my bottle and refilled it with Gatorade and offered me a pbj sandwich and a PBR beer at the aid station. I was tempted but thought I may not get going again. They were having a great time as they had camped out the night before and had some beers already...

Going up the "Ridge Trail"

Now a quick drop down and out of "the enchanted forest", up and down "Dave Moes" a steep climb up "dirty sock" and descent to "josies" then back up to "gateway" and down to "fenceline trail." Now just up the steep road to Brian at "top of the world" and then down to the start of "ridgeline" Coming out of ridgeline, I began to catch a guy who was obviously hurting. I caught him on a steep climb back up to the last trail straight down to the finish.... But a serious cramp hit and I forced to follow him down the single track to the finish as it was too muddy and narrow to pass....

So I finished 2nd in my old guy 40-49 yr age class and 17th overall in 6:23. I hung out for a while and rode back home. I took a hose to my bike to get the mud off, showered and rode back to the park with Lila for Cajun food served by Sugah's restaurant and Fat Tire beer. Anne and Julian came down after his nap and a good time was had by all.

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